The United States as a Plutocracy

A plutocracy is a system of rule by people of wealth, which describes our situation far more accurately than the term democracy. We have been an Empire ruled as a plutocracy since our founding. Hear my video commentary on American Plutocracy and the transition to Deep Democracy.

 

White Men of the Propertied Class

The U.S. Constitution was written by white men predominantly of the propertied class. For their time, the steps they took were heroic and progressive. They brought an end to hereditary monarchy and introduced the separation of church and state to end theocracy — both exceptional accomplishments for their time. The original Constitution, however, enshrined the power of white males of property in the institutions of a plutocracy, a system of rule by people of wealth. It specifically sanctioned slavery and gave no rights to women, Native Americans, or people of color.

An Empire Ruled as a Plutocracy

Have you ever wondered how extreme inequality in the United States is or how fast it is growing? The website Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality is a great resource.

The real story of the United States is that of an empire ruled as a plutocracy that has resisted demands from ordinary people for recognition of their rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness with often violent means.

The story that those who wrote the U.S. Constitution acted out of a passionate belief in the right of every person to life, liberty, and justice for all and gave us governing institutions that embody the highest expression of these democratic ideals is a leading example of an Empire fiction. As is characteristic of such fictions, it clouds our ability to see and thus to reach for unrealized possibilities of Earth Community well within our means.  

“To save the democracy we thought we had, we must take democracy to where it’s never been.”

Every bit of the land our nation occupies, from that of the original thirteen colonies, to that acquired during the Westward expansion, was taken by force and deceit from Native Americans who were empoverished as a result and whose treaty rights continue to be ignored with alarming regularity. It took a civil war to amend the Constitution to prohibit slavery and continued struggle to extend the vote to people of color. African Americans suffer the consequences of the enslavement of their ancestors to this day. Women, even white women of property, didn’t get the vote until 1920 and remain significantly under represented in political office. Even now we have no assurance that every vote will be properly recorded and counted.

Creating the Democracy We Never Had

Our curent economy is accurately described by investment advisors and marketing consultants as a "plutonomy," a combination of the terms "plutocracy" and "economy." It refers to an economy in which income growth is confined to those at the top of the wealth pyramid. They use the concept as a guide to framing profitable investment and marketing strategies. 

The is the mirror opposite of economic democracy, which is an essential foundation of political democracy, both foundational to the Living Democracy of Earth Community.

Bringing democracy to these United States, begins with a new story that acknowledges we have never had it. In the words of Frances Moore Lappe, “To save the democracy we thought we had, we must take democracy to where it’s never been.”